BORIS: AMPLIFIER WORSHIP (1998)
1) Huge; 2) Ganbou-Ki; 3) Hama; 4) Kuruimizu; 5) Vomitself.
Well, the band's second album is like an ocean of diversity compared to their first — which, of course, does not say much and could even be construed as a direct insult, because diversity is the last thing which Boris care about. Do not worry too much, though: the very first track (ʽHugeʼ), going on for nine minutes, basically sounds like a small handful of samples taken from the first albums of Black Sabbath and looped into an endless serpent-monster of a «composition». Ever wished, enchanted by Tony Iommi's tone, that any of the songs on Master Of Reality could go on forever and ever and ever, just pummeling and pummeling your senses with that merciless hellish roar? Your wish has been granted.
Somewhere around the middle of the second track, though, the band sort of wakes up and begins crawling out of its shell — the tempo picks up, the drums gain in complexity of pattern, and the guitar gains in color, adding some light to darkness and switching from a «psycho-metal» mood into «astral» mood, eventually quieting down and beginning to explore the benefits of subtlety. In fact, by the time we get to ʽKuruimizuʼ, Wata's multi-tracked guitars have been realigned to a «peaceful», «becalmed» way of droning, a lullaby-like mode of functioning where the listener is gently rocked to and fro in a cradle of softly gurgling guitars, suspended on a friendly, reliable bassline. Do not make the mistake of going to sleep, though, or the suitably titled ʽVomitselfʼ will wake you up with quite a bit of a nasty shock — the 17-minute «grand finale» that completes everything that ʽHugeʼ left promised, but unfulfilled, and does indeed sound like 17 minutes of a guitar that tries to «vomit itself». Not a pleasant experience, but if you let your ears get adjusted to this, the wildest of Jimi Hendrix improvisations will sound like Johann Strauss Jr. in comparison. Always leave some space for heavy aural exercise, and you'll be war-trained in no time, ready to take on the sonics of the world like a real man.
Musically speaking, there is nothing whatsoever going on here that deserves specific attention: most of these feedback tricks and minimalistic guitar riffs had been in active use since the early 1970s. But since we're talking musical minimalism here, this is not relevant — what matters is that they take these little bits of Black Sabbath and Hawkwind and God knows who else, put them under the microscope, dissect them, recombine them, and stretch them out for miles and miles, assuming that it is only like that that one can really assess their true potential. Take ʽSweet Leafʼ, chop out everything but its main riff, slow it down a bit, then loop it for 15 minutes, and what you get is Boris. (Oh, they also have some screamed vocals here, but they are totally unnecessary — every track here would work better without voices). Yes, I can actually see where it could make a certain sense.
On the positive side, there is a little less high-pitched metallic feedback here — only the last two minutes or so make my ears bleed, compared with about 15 minutes at the end of Absolutego, so you could say they are now taking it less heavy on the listeners. On the negative side, any attempt to compromise, even the slightest one, threatens to turn Boris from a bunch of weirdo iconoclasts into a bunch of boring wankers (who they are, deep down in essence, but the aggressively minimalistic approach helps take the focus away from that fact). I have no idea which choice suits me better, but since I can hardly expect any particularly elevated emotional response to this band's brand of elastic psychedelia altogether, I am not exactly losing sleep over the issue.